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Unilever NV
Unilever plc

legal form Dual-listed company ( NV / plc )
ISIN NL0000388619 (NV)
GB00B10RZP78 (plc)
founding 1929/1930
Seat Rotterdam , Netherlands London , United KingdomNetherlandsNetherlands 
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 
management Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer
Graeme Pitkethly, Chief Financial Officer
Number of employees 150,000
sales 52 billion euros
Branch Consumer goods
Website www.unilever.com
Status: 2019

Unilever is a Dutch - British company . The company is one of the world's largest manufacturers of consumer goods . The main business areas include the production of food , cosmetics , personal care as well as household and textile care products. In 2016, Unilever employed 168,000 people in over 100 countries worldwide (compared to 304,000 in 1990). Around 5,000 people were employed in Germany in 2013 (36,000 in 1962, 27,400 in 1990 and 8,000 at the end of 2005). The Unilever organization formed in 2008 for Germany, Austria and Switzerland ( DA-CH ) is based inHamburg .

With a turnover of 60.6 billion US dollars and a profit of 6.9 billion US dollars, Unilever is ranked 103rd among the world's largest listed companies according to Forbes Global 2000 (as of FY 2017). The company had a market capitalization of approximately $ 156 billion in mid-2018.


Even if the company appears to the outside world as one company, since its formation through the merger in 1929 it has had a double structure consisting of two equal parts of the company with own shares: the Dutch Unilever  NV and the British Unilever  PLC . There are still two general meetings, two company headquarters in Rotterdam and London , but the management board of both companies is identical - in a similar structure to that of Royal Dutch Shell until 2005 . Both have been led by Alan Jope from Scots since January 1, 2019. The shares of the Dutch company are listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in the AEX index , while the shares of the UK company are listed on the London Stock Exchange in the FTSE 100 . Both companies are also listed on the New York Stock Exchange . The global turnover in 2016 was 52.7 billion euros .


Founding phase (1888 to 1929)

In 1888 , margarine manufacturer Simon van den Bergh , who comes from Oss in Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands, founded a company for the industrial production of margarine in Kleve on the Lower Rhine in order to avoid the high protective tariffs of the German Empire on butter and margarine. His compatriot Anton Jurgens , who had bought Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès' margarine patent in 1871, also built a margarine factory not far from Kleve in the neighboring town of Goch . Jurgens later acquired numerous margarine production facilities in Germany; For example, in 1902 Rossitzky & Witt G. mb H. in Altona , Krog & Evers in Hamburg-Ottensen and in 1904 the largest German competitor, Bahrenfeld Margarinewerke AL ​​Mohr G. mb H. in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld , founded in 1880 . In 1927 Jurgens owned a total of 12 factories in the German Empire .

In 1927 the two family businesses Jurgens and van den Bergh merged to form Margarine Unie in Rotterdam and in London to form Margarine Union .

William Hesketh Lever and his brother James Darcy Lever founded the Lever Brothers soap factory in 1885 , which was initially located in Warrington in north-west England and was later relocated to the Wirral Peninsula west of Liverpool . Their product was innovative because they used palm oil instead of tallow to make soap , and it got a big market. The Lever brothers named it “Sunlight Soap” and built the model settlement Port Sunlight as a place of residence for the factory workers . As its German offshoot, the Sunlicht soap factory was established in Mannheim in 1899 , which was sold to the Süddeutsche Disconto-Gesellschaft in 1914 under the impression that it was threatened with expropriation as a result of the First World War , converted into an AG in 1916 and then bought back by Lever in 1924 .

In 1929/1930 Margarine Unie and Lever Brothers Ltd. finally merged . to Unilever. The association represented the largest corporate merger to date.

Stagnation (1929 to 1945)

Layer's patent soap

At the same time, Unilever Austria was founded in 1929 from the merger of ten companies, including Georgschicht AG , which in 1938 - after the annexation of Austria - was integrated into Unilever Germany . In 1932, 69 companies and another 31 were owned by Unilever. This also included the perfumery Elida AG, founded in 1925 . In 1935, due to strict foreign exchange regulations (introduced in the course of the global economic crisis ), which prohibited the outflow of funds from Germany to the parent company in Rotterdam, companies such as Langnese as well as processed cheese manufacturers, textile and paper mills joined the company.

Expansion (1945 to 1970)

In 1948 production started again in most of the factories. In 1958, the German Margarine Union was converted from a stock corporation into a GmbH . In 1960 Unilever took over the milk ice cream business founded in 1927 from the Austrian Wiener Milchindustrie AG (MIAG), which sold ice cream under the brand name "Eskimo".

The Langnese-Iglo GmbH was created in 1962 from a merger of the two companies Unilever Langnese ice cream GmbH (since 1936 at Unilever) and "Iglo GmbH". In August 2005 Langnese-iglo GmbH became part of Unilever Deutschland GmbH and no longer functioned as an independent company.

Consolidation (since 1970)

Unilever parted ways with unprofitable companies, for example by selling textile factories. This process of restructuring continued into the 1980s. Years of growth followed, during which Unilever bought many company shares. The new acquisitions included a. Brands like Calvin Klein , Bestfoods (with Maizena and Knorr ), Ben & Jerry’s , Slim-Fast and Amora Maille.

In recent years, Unilever's business has lost market share and sales have stagnated. In Germany this was u. a. attributed to the loss of importance of branded goods and the increase in market share of discounters.

In 2004, several Unilever brands, including Biskin (on the market since 1968), Livio (since 1958) and Palmin (since 1894), were sold to Peter Kölln KGaA in Elmshorn .

The company's management was downsized in a restructuring process. The Schaffhausen- based Unilever Supply Chain Company AG was founded, which owns all European plants.

After 45 years, on February 9, 2006, Unilever announced the sale of its European frozen food brands Iglo and Birds Eye . Therefore, on July 1, 2006, the frozen food division was spun off into the newly founded iglo GmbH , which was then sold to the British investment company Permira on August 28 for 1.73 billion euros .

In 2014 Unilever sold a majority stake in Slim-Fast to the US private equity firm Kainos Capital . On December 15, 2017, Unilever announced the sale of its spreads division (including the brands Rama, Becel, Lätta and Sanella) for 6.825 billion euros to the financial investor KKR . The sale was completed on July 2, 2018. The South Africa branch , which was sold to Remgro , was excluded .

Group overview

Current group structure

Unilever is a conglomerate and has the following subsidiaries, among others:

  • Ben & Jerry’s , founded in 1978, has been part of Unilever since 2000
  • Bestfoods , founded in 1916, has been part of Unilever since 2000
  • Hindustan Unilever , founded in 1933
  • Oswald Nahrungsmittel GmbH, founded in 1951, part of Unilever since 2000
  • Unilever Foodsolutions GmbH

Locations in the German-speaking area


New head office (right) in Hamburg next to the Marco Polo Tower (left)

The three-country organization for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, formed as part of a new European strategy, has had its headquarters in Hamburg since January 1, 2008. As before, Unilever Deutschland GmbH , which continues to exist, is also based there.

In June 2009, the head office moved from the previous Unilever high-rise to a new building on Strandkai in HafenCity . In the new building , designed by the architectural office Behnisch Architekten , the company opens up to the end consumer with a grocery store, a small spa, an ice cream parlor with a terrace right on the Elbe next to the cruise terminal still to be built.

The Unilever Switzerland GmbH is based in Thayngen . It was created on January 1, 2005 through the merger of Lusso Foods in Ostermundigen and the previous Unilever Bestfoods Switzerland in Thayngen. On July 1, 2005, previously in also went train resident Lever Fabergé in it.

The Unilever Austria GmbH has its headquarters in Vienna .

Production sites in Germany

Unilever has several production sites in Germany, but produces goods for the German market, some in other European countries, and exports German products all over the world.

Products for body cleansing and skin care are manufactured at the following locations :

Food is produced at the following locations:

  • Auerbach : ready-made soups, ready meals, "croutinos"
  • Heilbronn : Soups, sauces, sauce thickeners, salad dressings, basic products, shaker bottles, products for food solutions
  • Heppenheim : Langnese ice cream
  • Stavenhagen : " Pfanni " potato products (puree, potato dumplings, cup snacks, mini dumplings, potato flakes, dried potatoes) and bread dumplings

Corporate governance

  • Unilever NV / PLC
    • Alan Jope, CEO
  • Unilever Germany GmbH
    • Peter Dekker, chairman

Business areas, brands and products

Unilever trademarks
Based on Unilever's annual report
Food Cleaning and cleaning products Hygiene and cosmetic articles
  • Coral (previously: Korall)
  • Domestos
  • OMO
  • Viss (in some countries, including Austria: cif)
  • Skip
  • Sun

Unilever Foods

Hamburg tram as an advertising medium for you may in the 1970s

With an extensive range of brands in the food industry , Unilever has made it into the top 5 largest food manufacturing companies. The food sector accounts for around 40% of total group sales. This range includes brands such as Bertolli , Becel or Lipton , but also many German brands such as Du kannst , Mondamin , Rama , Lätta , Knorr or Langnese as well as the Austrian brands brought in from Unilever Austria such as Eskimo and Iglo (in 1970 to Eskimo-Iglo merged, independent since 2005), Apollo , Kuner (founded as Kunerol ), Elida , Bensdorp (sold in early 2007) etc.

A wholly owned subsidiary of the Unilever group was Frozenfish , one of the largest fishing companies and suppliers to well-known fish producers . This operation is now owned by Permira , which has acquired the entire frozen food division ( iglo brand ) from Unilever. Thus, the last fish processing company after the sale of the fresh fish sales chain North Sea , the combination of fishing fleet and processing company Deutsche See (Bremerhaven) and the canned fish producer Norda-Lysell (Cuxhaven), was given up.

In 2005 Unilever sold the dextrose brand Dextro Energy to the German Zertus GmbH.

In addition to income from the sale of end customer products, Unilever is also active in the field of raw materials. This includes both our own tea plantations and our own palm oil plantations. (AR07)

Langnese logo

Unilever claims to be the world's largest ice cream manufacturer. The ice cream is sold worldwide with its own national name (e.g. Germany Langnese , Austria Eskimo , Switzerland Lusso , United Kingdom Walls , France Miko , Turkey, Italy and Greece Algida , Philippines Selecta ) but with a uniform logo (Heartbrand) as the respective names were already well known before the takeover by Unilever.

Langnese ice cream has long been produced and distributed by Langnese-Iglo GmbH as part of Unilever Germany. After the legal individual companies were merged into one company, Langnese is produced and sold in Germany by Unilever Deutschland GmbH.

Household and textile care

Modular detergent: softener, detergent, bleaching salt

In the rapidly changing market for detergents , cleaning agents and cleaning agents , Unilever is represented by brands such as Domestos , Cif , Skip , OMO , SUN , Coral and Viss .

personal hygiene

In the personal care product market, Unilever is represented with brands such as Ax , Dove , Impulse , Lux , dusch das , Rexona , Sunsilk , Timotei , Pond’s , Baba , Suave Clear , TIGI Haircare , Lifeboy (deodorized soap), Vaseline and Vasenol , Signal and Close up in the oral hygiene area. Some of these products still contain microplastics .

Palm oil controversy

In 2008, the company PALMCI, on behalf of Unilever, dried out swamp forests in the Ivory Coast and cleared them for palm oil plantations . These are the last refuge for endangered species such as the Diana cat , the Geoffroy colobus monkey and a subspecies of the red colobus monkey , the last of which is in the Tanoé forest . With 1.6 million tons annually, Unilever is the world's largest consumer of palm oil.

The former Unilever boss Patrick Cescau then announced that the company would undertake to purchase all of its palm oil requirements from 2015 only from suppliers who are certified for sustainable cultivation. In 2004, Unilever, together with other companies and the WWF, founded the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil Cultivation ( RSPO ) and announced in 2015 that it would support a moratorium on rain and peat forest deforestation in Indonesia . The UN feared the complete destruction of the forests on Sumatra and Borneo in 2012 . Unilever has been criticized by the environmental protection organization Robin Wood for a long time because it purchases palm oil from the Asian agricultural company Wilmar . This is operating in Sumatra overexploitation of their plantations and displacing the indigenous population of Sumatra with armed force. The RSPO certification of Wilmar as a sustainable palm oil supplier is described by Robin Wood as null and void because the industry only certifies itself here.

Regarding biofuels , Unilever boss Paul Polman said that the temporary surge in grain prices in 2008/09 was a “perverse consequence” of high biofuel subsidies in industrialized countries. As the most important plantation operator in Africa , Unilever is accused of being responsible for the destruction of numerous local businesses and the exploitation of agricultural workers , according to the Black Book . As the largest palm oil processor in the world, Unilever is responsible for similar damage as the group accuses biofuels. For the production of cosmetics and food for Unilever, large areas of rainforest have to be cleared in order to grow palm oil. In this way, in the Congo, for example, large areas of land would be taken away from the local population for palm oil plantations for soap production.

Antitrust proceedings

In April 2011, the European Commission , together with Procter & Gamble and Henkel, sentenced Unilever to a total fine of 315.2 million euros for forming a cartel . Unilever received 104 million euros of the fine, but it was reduced by 25% as the company partnered with the European Commission and disclosed details of the cartel agreement. A further 10% were waived because Unilever agreed to a settlement and thus the possibility of legal action against the fine was eliminated. The cartel existed from 2002 to 2005 in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Greece and was used for systematic agreements on the pricing of heavy duty detergent powder for machine washing.

Mercury poisoning in India

In 1986 Unilever bought the cosmetics company Chesebrough-Pond's. This produced around 165 million mercury thermometers in the Indian Kodaikanal by 2001 . According to Unilever's own calculations, more than two tons of mercury have escaped into the environment. There are still 360 kilos of the substance in the floor of the factory premises. Hidden mercury was also discovered in a nearby junkyard. The company had to export 300 tons of garbage and soil to the United States for disposal. The union is now suing for compensation on behalf of more than 500 workers. Unilever itself in a statement rejects any responsibility, even if an Indian study comes to the conclusion that the symptoms of the workers are due to the mercury exposure.

Racist advertising

In May 2011 Unilever published a “before-after” advertisement for Dove shower gel from Unilever in which three women stand in front of two large pictures labeled “before” and “after”. The picture labeled "before" shows dry skin, while the picture labeled "after" shows healthy skin. The three women are lightened by skin tone from left to right, with the woman with the darkest skin standing in front of the picture labeled "before" and the woman with the lightest in front of the picture labeled "after".

In 2017, a Facebook ad for a Dove skin cream from Unilever showed a black woman transforming into a white woman when taking off her top. The commercial was in numerous media and u. a. criticized by Ava DuVernay . Unilever or Dove had the racist advertising removed, apologized and stated that the advertisement had "missed the target".


Unilever and people from its management received positive and negative awards for their corporate policy:

  • In 2011 Harry JM Brouwer received the BAUM environmental award for having “decisively shaped and promoted the Group's sustainability activities”.
  • Rainforest Rescue awarded Unilever its BAUM-AB Prize in the same year. The Anti-Prize was given to Unilever “for aiding and abetting environmental destruction and disregard for human rights in Indonesia”.
  • In 2012 Unilever received the German Sustainability Award in the category of Germany's most sustainable future strategy . The company aims to double its size while halving its impact on the environment, sourcing 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources and improving the lives of a billion people.
  • In 2013 Unilever's European Works Council (UEWC) was awarded the German Works Council Prize 2013 in the special category “Co-determining Europe” for its ongoing commitment to shaping co-determination rights in the multinational Unilever Group.


See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d [1] . Company website, accessed May 16, 2020
  2. ^ Procter & Gamble on the Forbes Top Regarded Companies List . In: Forbes . ( forbes.com [accessed November 20, 2017]).
  3. Barbara Anne Hendricks from Kleve: The margarine industry on the Lower Rhine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, inaugural dissertation to obtain a doctorate from the Philosophical Faculty of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn, Bonn 1981, day of the oral examination: April 30, 1980, speaker: Hans Pohl, co-speaker: Gerhard Adelmann
  4. Bergedorf - those were the days! , by Ronald Hartmann, pp. 104-106
  5. ^ The Pfennig Empire , DER SPIEGEL 40/1960 of September 28, 1960
  6. https://vroniplag.wikia.org/de/wiki/Quelle:Bah/Liebstaedter_1927
  7. ^ Company publication from AL Mohr: Margarine-Fabrik , Altona-Bahrenfeld, 1900
  8. ^ Albert Gieseler - Sunlicht Gesellschaft A.-G. Retrieved March 10, 2020 .
  9. Carsten Knop: Spreads are sold: Rama and Becel change hands . In: FAZ.NET . December 18, 2017, ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed March 10, 2020]).
  10. Erich Hassinger, Hugo Ott: History, Economy, Society , Duncker & Humblot (Berlin), 1974 (accessed on March 10, 2020)
  11. ^ Unilever Supply Chain Company
  12. Unilever sells Slim-Fast to Kainos Capital , Unilever press release of July 10, 2014
  13. Unilever to sell its Spreads business to KKR for € 6,825 bn
  14. Beat Welti, CEO Oswald Nahrungsmittel, in an interview In: moneycab.com, October 3, 2016, accessed on December 4, 2017.
  15. a b Unilever. about us
  16. Press release: 50 years of ice cream from Heppenheim
  17. Managing Director. Retrieved June 29, 2020 .
  18. thea.at
  19. BUND: Microplastics, the invisible danger. (pdf) July 2017, accessed January 8, 2018 .
  20. Microplastics - The Dangerous Consequences of Invisible Plastics ( Memento from January 9, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) In: daserste.de , November 15, 2017, accessed on January 8, 2018.
  21. Save the Rainforest e. V .: RegenwaldReport 02/2008: Monkeys or margarine?
  22. Save the Rainforest e. V .: Rainforest Report ( Memento from February 16, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  23. Unilever is committed to sustainability in palm oil cultivation, press release of May 6, 2008 ( Memento of December 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  24. Unilever Sustainable Living Plan ( Memento from September 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  25. Robin Wood ( Memento of September 27, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  26. Food companies warn against biofuel . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .
  27. ^ Klaus Werner, Hans Weiss : The new black book brand companies . Vienna / Frankfurt a. M. 2003, p. 370 f.
  28. Werner Mussler: High penalty for detergent cartel . In: FAZ.NET of April 13, 2011, accessed on April 28, 2011
  29. Home. Retrieved June 30, 2020 .
  30. ^ Lalon Sander: Thermometer factory in India: Fatal mercury poisoning . In: The daily newspaper: taz . January 17, 2016, ISSN  0931-9085 ( taz.de [accessed June 30, 2020]).
  31. Archived copy ( Memento from September 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  32. ^ Final Report of the GOI Committee. In: KodaiMercury. November 9, 2011, accessed June 30, 2020 (UK English).
  33. Nicola Slawson: Dove apologises for ad showing black woman turning into white one The Guardian , October 8, 2017;
    Maggie Astor: Dove Drops Ad After It Draws Criticism for Being Racist New York Times ;
    Casey Quackenbush: Dove Apologizes After Body Wash Ad Is Slammed For Being Racist Time Magazine ;
    Jeff Wicks: Dove extends olive branch over 'racist' ad The Times , October 9, 2017;
    Natasha Bach: Dove Removes 'Racist' Ad That Seemed to Suggest Black Women Were Dirty Fortune ;
    Daniel Politi: Dove Apologizes for Ad That Shows Black Woman Turning Into a White Woman Slate , October 8, 2017;
    Whitney Kimball: What Was Dove's Thought Process on This Racial Transformation Ad Jezebel, October 8, 2017;
    Biba Kang: Dove's apology for its Facebook advert is insulting to people of color - 'sorry you're offended' really isn't enough. The Independent , October 8, 2017.
  34. Unilever wins German Sustainability Award 2012 (BILD). Retrieved June 30, 2020 .
  35. Works Council Prize 2013; Message on the NGG website ( Memento from November 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  36. www.bund-verlag.de ( Memento from November 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  37. www.betriebsraetetag.de ( Memento from November 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )

Web links

Commons : Unilever  - collection of images, videos and audio files